Survey highlights toll of mental ill health in the workplace

A new survey shows the extent to which mental ill health affects work and suggests managers need more help to manage it.

depression, stress, sexual harassment

 

More than half of UK workers say that they have struggled with their mental wellbeing before with 80% of those who have struggled with their mental wellbeing before saying it impacts their work, according to a new survey.

The survey of 2,009 workers by Opinium and the University of Warwick finds 53% of workers have struggled with mental health.

Public sector workers were more likely to score significantly below average (23%) on mental health compared to their private sector counterparts (19%). Differences according to gender and age were also apparent; one-in-five (22%) women scored significantly below average compared to 18% of men and those aged 18-24 and 25-34 were most likely to score significantly below average (22% for both age groups respectively).

In terms of seniority, those lower down the pecking-order were more likely to score significantly below average. For example, two-in-five (38%) unskilled manual workers scored significantly below compared to 16% of business owners or proprietors.

Many of those who have struggled with their mental wellbeing have never told an employer (67%).

The survey found a quarter of those struggling with their mental wellbeing keep quiet because they don’t think their employer can help while a third (36%) avoid sharing because they feel it isn’t necessary to tell them.

Almost a quarter (23%) felt too embarrassed to tell their company that they were struggling, and 19% thought it could jeopardise their career.

The survey also found that many managers have good intentions, but do not know how to support mental wellbeing in the workplace (49%). Only two thirds of managers would know what to do if an employee told them they were struggling with their mental wellbeing. Opinium says this highlights a need for employers to be provided with more information about how they can support employee’s mental wellbeing in the workplace. Nevertheless, 77% of managers recognise and agree that businesses need more support and education around mental wellbeing in the workplace.

When asked what would help, offering mental health days (days that employees can take off for their mental health
with no questions asked) is one of the most popular initiatives that people would like to see introduced, with 21% saying they’d like to see their workplace introduce this. However, only 5% of employers currently offer them. Other ways employees would like to be supported at work including through flexible working (17%), monitoring of mental wellbeing via surveys (16%) and counselling/ employee assistance services (16%).

Opininium adds that employers need to communicate openness and knowledge with their employees when it comes to mental wellbeing and support. Less than half of workers think they would be supported at work if they were struggling with their mental wellbeing (47%) and 24% of those who didn’t tell their employer they were struggling with their mental health did so because they didn’t think their employer would be able to help.



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